Student with disability able to drive

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New technology allows teenager with disability to drive. (KTRK)

Thanks to a new technology, a disabled Canadian teenager has achieved his dream of driving.

Shaan Lail, age 18, has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a condition that causes his muscles to become weaker as he ages. He uses a wheelchair and has limited mobility.

"When I was younger, of course I thought I would always be able to drive but as my disability progressed - the disease does progress - then I started to think I liked cars all my life but it would be a shame if I couldn't drive," Lail said.

However, last summer, Lail became the first person in Canada to be licensed to drive using the Joysteer electronic driving system, which allows people with minimal hand function to control a vehicle with a joystick.

Lail's mom says driving will make a world of difference for son, giving him the chance for a normal social life and opportunities to drive to college and work. His driving instructor says people with disabilities should have the same opportunity for the excitement and independence that comes with driving.

The system is expensive though - about $70,000 - and driving isn't considered medically necessary. Lail's family is paying out of pocket.

Lail hopes that in the future the Joysteer system will be available to everyone who needs it.

"There are a lot of people who are disabled that don't have as many opportunities, right? So it would be great if the government would cover a significant amount of the price because in all honesty, everyone wants to drive," he said. "Any other friend I have in a power wheelchair or wheelchair user, their dream is to just drive, to be independent because for them, driving would be everything."
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